UTC Gridiron Opener -70 Days and Counting

10 Weeks From Tonight - UTC vs. UT Martin

Thursday, June 20, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

Ten weeks from tonight it’s “Thursday Night Football at Finley” as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga hosts UT Martin in the college football season opener for both schools.

Led by three All-Americans, the Mocs (6-5 in 2012) have 10 starters back on each side if the ball plus the kicker and anticipation is high for a run at the Southern Conference title and a spot in the NCAA FBS post-season tournament.

5in;">UT Martin was 8-3 (6-2 and 2nd in the Ohio Valley Conference ) a year ago and returns six starters on each side of the ball.

Finished Strong: UT Martin won five of its last six games, including a 35-26 win against No.23 Tenn. State to close the season.

UTC also won its final game of 2012, defeating Elon at home, 24-17 … and won five of the last seven.

The Mocs have posted three, 6-5 seasons in head coach Russ Huesman’s four years as leader of the Blue and Gold and eight wins in 2013 are probably needed to reach the NCAA playoffs.


UTC leads the series, 3-0 (1991-92-93) … UT Martin also returns to Finley Stadium in 2017 and the Mocs travel to Hardy M. Graham Stadium in Martin in 2018

UTC:  2013 is the 106th season of football for the Mocs …

Overall Record: 494-503-35, 105 seasons

First Game:  Oct.29, 1904 and a 17-0 win against Athens (Tenn.)

Six to Reach 500: UTC needs six wins to reach 500

UT Martin: 2013 is the 83rd season of football for the SkyHawks

Overall Record 345-469-20, 82 seasons

First Game: Sept. 19, 1925 ... 20-0 loss to Union in Jackson, Tenn.

Coaches: UTC – Russ Huesman (UTC ’84) 5th yr …  23-21

UT Martin – Jason Simpson (Southern Miss.  ’95) 8th yr. … 53-37

Conference Titles (1),   OVC (2006)

UTC Over View: A veteran defense shows All-Americans in Davis Tull (DE) and Wes Dothard (LB), while quarterback Jacob Huesman has talented receivers in Terrell Robinson (40 catches, 5 TDs and can also play quarterback), Tommy Hudson (31 catches) and All-American tight end Faysal Shafaat (37catches, 5 TDs) 

According to Huesman: Coach Huesman believes that a successful team must have a several  fourth year junior and fifth year senior starters.

UTC: The Mocs have 11 fourth-year juniors and fifth-year seniors among the 21 returning starters.

UT Martin: Of the 12 returning starters, eight are either fourth year junior or fifth year senior starters.

While both the Mocs and the Skyhawks are strong on defense, the Mocs should have the advantage on offense.

QB Edge For the Mocs: Huesman is a returning starter at quarterback, made the SoCon All-Freshman team in 1012 as he rushed for 904 yards (7 TDs) and passed for an addition 1,712 yards (13 TDs).

UT Martin has three signal callers on the summer roster, but none has started a four-year college game.

The Skyhawks’ trio of  Tyler Rice, Dylan Favre and Jarod Neal all played in the UT Martin spring game, with Rice having the most productive passing numbers (12-14, 211 yards, 4 TDs) as Neal was 9-18 for 153 yards and three touchdowns and Favre was 8-15, 125 yards and one scoring toss.

Green Bay Connection: While the Mocs have alum B.J. Coleman on the current Packers roster, UT Martin junior Dylan Favre is a nephew of former Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

Dylan Favre is 5-10, was a 2010 MaxPreps first team high school All-American at St. Stanislaus HS(Bay St. Louis, Miss.) , 2009 Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year and threw for 1,815 yards, 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions at Pearl River (Miss.) Community College last fall.

Favre signed with Miss. State out of high school and was 13-26 for 119 yards and one touchdown in 2011.

Receivers: UTC has a talented trio of wide outs in senior Marlon Anthony (629 career yards, 8 TDs), junior Tommy Hudson (36 career catches, 33 yards) and Terrell Robinson (41 career catches, 490 yds, 5 TDs) along with All-American tight end Faysal Shafaat (37 catches, 5 TDs)

UT Martin has seniors Jeremy Butler (51 catches, 750 yards, 10 TDs) and Dylan Davis (23 catches, 293 yds)

O-Line:  The Mocs have a veteran line with junior center Patrick Sullivan, senior guard Kevin Revis (5th yr. Sr.) and tackles Hunter Dockery (5th yr Sr.) and Synjen Herren (So.)

UT Martin also has experience up front with fourth year juniors in Matthew Axline (6-5, 310) John Johnson (6-5, 250) and Charlie Sweeton (6-5, 290) and fifth year senior Tyler Eady (6-2 270)

Backfield: Mocs need someone to step up and take over the running back spot, while Taharin Tyson is the returner at fullback.  Junior Marquis Green had 133 yards on 24 carries in 2012 as a running back.

UT Martin: D.J. McNeil rushed for 434 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012 in a reserve role. In the spring game, Najee Ray rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries and one score, while Trent Garland was seven carries for 34 yards and McNeil was seven carries for 29 yards.

Strong in the Defensive Back Field

UTC – Cornerback position is deep and talented with seniors Chaz Moore (91 career tackles) and Kadeem Wise (122 career tackles, 10 INTs) along with senior safety  D.J. Key (216 career tackles, 5 INTs) and free safety Zach McCarter (37 career tackles, 1 fumble recovery).

UT Martin: The SkyHawks are led by senior defensive backs Camaren Harris (29 tackles, 1 INTs) and Thad Williams (44 tackles, 2 INTs) and senior safety J’Vontez Blackmon (76 tackles, 2 INTs)

Solid Linebackers

UTC has fifth year seniors in Gunner Miller (131 career tackles, 1 sack, 3 INTs)and All-American Wes Dothard (214 career tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INTs), while UT Martin has senior Ben Johnson (131 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) and junior Tony Bell (78 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 9 sacks).

Defensive Line

UTC: All-American Davis Tull (86 career tackles, 11.5 sacks) anchors a veteran line with defensive tackles Derrick Lott and Toyvian Brand (40 tackles)

              UT Martin: Senior D.J. Roberts anchors the SkyHawks D-Line with 53 tackles and 11 sacks

Kicking Game: UTC Junior Nick Pollard is 19-29 in FGs and 60-65 in PATs and averaged 41.5 yards in 2012.

UT Martin’s James Satterfield (RS Jr) handles the punting duties (42.5 avg) and Kevin Barfield is the senior kicker. 


contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

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